What do we have to give in alms?
Jesus Christ asks us to give the poor of our surplus. He asks us to give even our little.
In Marc 12, 41-44, results that He asks us to give all that we have, all our richness. (It is about the parabola of the widow which gives two pennies in the church).
But Christ asks us to give even what we do not have, which we do not have. He asks us the impossible one. A famous French writer this fact, as follows:
In a monastery where he wished to enter, introduces himself an applicant wishing to become monk.
Would you know, father, that I have neither the faith, neither the light, neither the courage, nor confidence in myself and by consequence I cannot help myself and of as much less the others. I do not have anything.
It would have been normal that he should be returned instantly by the higoumen
But, this one says to him:
It doesn’t matter! You do not have the faith, you do not have the light, but, by giving them to the others, you will also acquire them for yourself. Go and take possession of your room of retirement in this monastery.
Not of his surplus, not of his little, nor even of his indigence, but of what he misses. While making alms to the others what you do not have, – the faith, the light, the confidence of oneself, the courage,- you will also acquire them for you. You can make alms with what you think that you don’t have, but which perhaps exist at the bottoms of your heart, and you will take conscience thus.
Paradoxically, Christ says to us:
If you want to lead, then become servant; if you want to be glorified, then humiliates yourself; if you want to save your soul, then take the risk for Me; if you want to regain your innocence, then recognize yourself to be guilty, and know that if you will give what you don’t have, you will acquire also what you gave to the others.
By making alms what we do not have, we will acquire by rebound what we dared to give to the others.
This is valid for any Christian, for the clerks and for the laymen. Even the monk or the deacon or the priest who cross the desert of the doubt or of the spiritual dryness, which is in the doubt or tempted by despair, must give to those which come to require from him assistance, which they await that one gives them, and even what he knows well that he cannot give them. In their making the gift, this gift will return on him, he will receive the mercy in return of those alms.
By giving the light that you do not have, you will have it also yourself. The gift that you made returns you like a boomerang, like a ray of light reflected by a mirror. And this gift will fill you, will enrich you.
It is that what Christ wants that we give in alms: the surplus, the little, our indigence, all. The monk, the deacon, the priest, have to give to the others the faith, the light, even if they misses those for short time or for more long time. Even if they are in a state of loss of their zeal.
Will they be able to do that? Yes, because they belong to the group of the friends of the Christ, who said that they are not world, as Me I am not world (Jean 17, 20).
And Paul also had known as:
You must help the weak ones and to remind you the words of Christ
Are happier those who give than those who receive. (Acts 20,35).
Let us think of the crucifixion of Jesus. He is nailed on the cross, his body is bloody, he awaits the anguish and the death. On his right and on his left there are two other crosses, with two thieves, both offenders of the common right. The sun is to the zenith, Jesus is thirsty, all is desolation, and pain. The scribes, the Pharisees, defy him dying. Even the thief of his left causes him. He insults him.
The thief of the right-hand side finds the respite and the nobleness of heart to say fine words to his neighbour. He cannot help him, but he tells him fine words.
Jesus says to him:
Today you will be with me in the paradise.
Jesus gave him this single privilege to enter in the paradise with Him, who is either God and man, privilege which neither Isaiah, neither Moses, nor Noah will not have like privilege. The thief received for himself only, this single privilege.
Those fine words of the thief could soften the suffocating atmosphere, of spite, of venom, which reigned on Golgotha. Like a miracle, the fine words of affection, of confidence, of compassion, changed suddenly all, and transformed Golgotha – space vitiated by iniquity, by cruelty, by revenge, – into an anteroom of the paradise.
The thief did not remain closed in the world, isolated in its self-centredness, he became that which has seen, which has recognized, which comforted Jesus, who took his defence, by his fine words.
We also, can make the good deeds by giving our alms in the form of the fine words of encouragement, of confidence, of compassion, of participation in the distress of the others.
Never let us lose the occasion to make the good deeds by the word which brings the moral comfort to the suffering ones, to the poor, to the old men.
Let us be like the good thief.